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Source: Complete Life of William McKinley and Story of His Assassination
Source type: book
Document type: book chapter
Document title: “Nation Observes Burial Day” [chapter 42]
Author(s): Everett, Marshall
Edition: Memorial edition
none given
Place of publication: none given
Year of publication:
Pagination: 425-26, 429-30

Everett, Marshall. “Nation Observes Burial Day” [chapter 42]. Complete Life of William McKinley and Story of His Assassination. Memorial ed. [n.p.]: [n.p.], 1901: pp. 425-26, 429-30.
full text of chapter; excerpt of book
William McKinley (mourning); William McKinley (death: public response); McKinley funeral services; William McKinley (death: international response).
Named persons
Emilio Aguinaldo; David; James A. Garfield; Judah; Ida McKinley; William McKinley; Victoria.
Pages 427 and 428 include no text. Page 427 features an illustration titled “President Lincoln and His Cabinet” and page 428 a photograph whose caption reads “Bringing the Casket out of the Milburn House.”

From title page: Complete Life of William McKinley and Story of His Assassination: An Authentic and Official Memorial Edition, Containing Every Incident in the Career of the Immortal Statesman, Soldier, Orator and Patriot; Profusely Illustrated with Full-Page Photographs of the Assassination Scene, Portraits of President McKinley, His Cabinet, Famous Men of His Administration and Vivid Life-Like Pictures of Eventful Scenes in His Great and Grand Career.

From title page: By Marshall Everett, the Great Descriptive Writer and Friend of the Martyr President.


Nation Observes Burial Day




     When King David lay dead, at the threshold of Judah’s mighty era, the Bible tells us “There was sorrow in the cities.”
     That, better than any other language that could be employed, describes the state of affairs in the United States of America when the body of the dead President lay in state in the town which had been his home on the day of his burial. Every city in the land chose its own methods of expressing the grief that was felt, but all united, at the selfsame hour, to express in the several ways the grief that was felt for the nation’s bereavement.
     In Canton, of course, the expression of sorrow was profound. Nothing else occupied the attention or the time of any one within the gates of the city but that one great, overpowering subject.
     In Washington all the many public offices of the government were closed, and the army of employees gave the day to sorrowing for the dead. There were services in nearly all of the churches. Theaters were closed. No places of amusement admitted frequenters. The storm-drenched draperies of woe that had been spread so lavishly on the day the remains of the President arrived from Buffalo, gave a drearier aspect to the silent and sorrowing city. There was little travel. Street cars nearly vacant hummed unchecked through the streets. Galleries and points usually sought by visitors were left quite abandoned. Even the great Washington Monument had fewer visitors than on any day since President Garfield lay in state in the White House.
     In Chicago there were services in the Auditorium, presided over by some of the foremost citizens, and addressed by orators of note throughout the nation. A multitude of social organizations joined in a monster parade. It was a general holiday, and workmen laid down the tools of their craft, and postponed activity and wage-earning till the body of the dead should be at rest. Naval veterans from the war with Spain formed a compact phalanx and marched for the last time in honor of him who had been their chief.
     In New Orleans a general holiday also was decreed, and schools were closed; shops were deserted; the activity of the city was still. It has been [425][426] described as nearly approaching those distressful days when the fear of the plague had laid a silencing hand on the industries of the town. There was no fear in the present case. But the pall of a sorrow was great enough to palsy all movement. President McKinley had endeared himself to the people of the South as no other President had done since the civil war. His trip across the continent last May was of the greatest benefit to his fame and popularity in the South. It was realized that here was a man who was President of the whole United States, and that he held those in that section of the country as close to his heart and his hope as the people of any other section.
     In San Francisco a service was held in the City Hall, addressed by a number of the prominent citizens. It was here that Mrs. McKinley was taken ill when the Presidential party was on its journey across the country; and it was here that President McKinley gave that great evidence of his devotion to his wife. It disarranged the plans of the people who had the trip in charge, and of the managers of the fair at which he was to have appeared. But above and beyond all desire for profit was their recognition of the generous and noble qualities of the man. And they paid their heartfelt tribute to the departed.
     In Montreal, Canada, the provincial synod of the Anglican Church held a memorial service in Christ Church cathedral in honor of the memory of President McKinley. The Duke of York, who was in the city at the time, attended the service, and gave every evidence of that grief which he had at other times expressed. It had been the intention of the city authorities of Montreal to give a series of fetes in honor of the Duke and the Duchess, as has been the custom in most of the cities which they have visited in the course of their tour about the world, forming the better acquaintance of the subjects of the English King. But these plans were abandoned, although a large sum of money had already been expended. Neither the Duke nor his wife wished to proceed with the festivities.
     London was a city of sorrow. The recent death of the Queen had called forth expressions of sorrow from President McKinley and the people of the United States which had touched a very tender chord in the nature of the Englishmen. And they were grieved beyond expression at the disaster that had befallen the Republic. They devoted the day to a special service in Westminster Abbey, a rare performance indeed. Portraits of President McKinley were displayed in all the shop windows, and were freely sold on the streets. All the papers of the British capital printed expressions [426][429] of sorrow and of appreciation of the good qualities of the man who had passed away, and all expressed the hope that the nation would be comforted in its grief. One of the most touching features of their publications was the tone of sympathy for Mrs. McKinley. There was a pathos about these words which keenly recalled the late bereavement of the nation of Victoria.
     Funeral services were held in far-away Manila. All the government offices were closed, and the buildings were draped in black. There was a peculiar sadness in the crowds that passed up and down the streets. Most business houses were closed for half the day, some for the entire day. Among the expressions of sorrow sent from Manila was one from Emilio Aguinaldo. He declared President McKinley a noble enemy, and a valued friend, and for the good of all the people under the flag of the Republic he could not but look on the death of such a man, particularly in such a manner, as an unparalleled calamity. He gave utterance to the most vigorous condemnation of the dastardly act which cost the President his life.
     And so, from the rising to the setting of the sun, “there was sorrow in the cities.” It was not in the big cities alone. Wherever communities had been gathered, there was sorrow, and the effort to express the grief that was universal throughout the nation. Churches were filled with communicants and friends. Men and women who had not been in the habit of attending divine services made this the occasion when they paid their tribute of respect to the memory of a great man fallen. Pastors and orators employed their best talents in extolling the virtues of the dead, and holding out hope to the living.
     And not even in the cities—large or small—was the grief monopolized. There was not a farm house, perhaps, in the land where grief was absent. In those hours when the service was being conducted over the bier of the martyred President in Canton, there was a bowing of heads throughout every part of the land. The beneficent results of the public labors of this man had reached to the farthest home, and the fame of his loyal manhood had penetrated all hearts. He was loved and honored and mourned. And the nation paused at the brink of his grave, in body or in spirit, whether they stood in the city he had called his home, and whether they held to their places at any other point in the broad land.
     The sorrow of the cities bathed all the land in tears.
     Of all the tributes paid to the memory of the dead President, none approached in majesty and impressiveness that utter abandonment of all [429][430] occupation for the moments when the burial was actually taking place. For five minutes, from 2:30 to 2:35, there was absolute rest throughout the nation. That was the time when the body of the murdered President was being lifted to its last final repose.
     And from the Atlantic to the Pacific, not a wheel turned for those five minutes.
     For the space of five minutes every train in the country was stopped, and held motionless. Engineers, firemen, conductors and crews paused for that period in their occupation, turned devoutly to the little town where the last sad rites were being performed, and sent their thoughts out to the hovering spirit of the man who had fallen.
     Labor in shop, in store, on farm, in mill—everywhere—had ceased.
     That stopping of America, that pause of the United States, that wait of every citizen while the body of one dead was lowered to the tomb, is a mightier miracle than that which marked the last victory of Judea’s leader.
     Five minutes taken out of life! Five minutes snatched from activity, lost to productive effort, subtracted from material struggle! It is an amazing thing in the most energetic, the most thrifty nation on the face of the earth.
     And yet that five minutes, stricken from the total money value of the day, brought in return a sense of tenderness, of fraternity with all the other millions waiting, bowed and reverent, which nothing else could have produced. That five minutes was the best investment that busy lives could make. It brought them nearer to the ideal life that had been ended. It helped to impress upon them the value of his splendid example. It gave them a better confidence in the citizenship of America. It enacted anew the law of love, and blessed with its swift ministrations the purer patriotism for which this man of the people, this believer in God had stood as a representative.
     Silence and tears for the noble victim of malignant hate; new resolves for the upholding of law and the extension of real liberty; unbounded faith in the stability of our republican institutions; an impressive warning to the foes of order—such was the day’s meaning to every loyal American citizen.
     Eighty millions of people gathered about six feet by two of hallowed earth! That is the spectacle bought at a price so matchless.



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